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Lesson 29 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

29. Stay in Contact!


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Stay in Contact!

Online marketing, I find that a lot of people are starting to grasp this concept of growing their email list. I think sometimes creatives are a little bit behind with other marketing techniques out there and I think we are starting to catch on. But what I do see a lot of is really poor copywriting. And I mean copywriting with a "w". So I just have a few tips on that because I'm sitting up here, telling you guys to start sharing stories and stuff but if you go and do that but it's not formatted in a really easy to read, short, punchy way, then it's just going to look like an academic wall of text that nobody wants to read. So, it has to be short and sweet, like I said. Did I really need, write out your whole story, whatever you want to write out, and then go back and say did they really need all the details or is this kind of like mom-goggles with our pictures? Do they need to know everything in this story? Really drive them to the point. Not so academic, does it feel like skimming a bo...

ok? If you are on my email list, I look like I write to you guys in a list on purpose because it is easy to read. Make your statements, especially your call to actions very client centric in this conversational vibe. So not I-I-I-I-I-I-I, if you are going to use some sort of a buzzword type of a thing, or not even that -- I see people all of the time go, "If you're thinking about booking a session, let me know." No, say, "Click here to learn about booking a session." So be a little bit more assertive in that. That's that language that I'm talking about. Yeah. Right? I learned this about albums, right? Don't say, "So your album comes with 20 pages. "Additional pages are $50 a page." You say, "Your first 20 pages of your album "is $1000. "All the photos that you add to it, is this." So you change the wording. That's exactly what Marie is saying. Yeah. Language is everything. And make things actionable. This is one of the biggest pitfalls I see on social media is people will tell something about the photo and that's it. And I bet if you go to your social, like to Facebook, your page and see how many times you are posting and how many times you've actually put the link to your website? It's different if you are sharing blog posts, but a lot of times people are sharing their work and they are not telling people to go look at their website for one reason or another. So then you're not getting traffic to your site. So make everything that you do really actionable. Lead them into whatever you want them to do next. And by focusing on relationships, you'll grow a network of people excited to hear from you and these are your warm leads. And this is where it's really at. So now you're going to stop selling, trying to promote to people that are just passing by in these cold leads that are what a lot of people do. Once you start accumulating the relationships, now it's time to cast your net out wider and start playing with the numbers game. Ding, ding, ding! Often when we feel like no one wants to book with us, the truth is that we just haven't spoken to enough warm leads of people, warm people in our pool of relationships. So, how are you marketing? Really take a step, take a minute to think about how the different channels that you have. Look around at -- So, I have this pie on here. Because if you think of your clients as a pie, each slice represents a different marketing channel. So you might get different people who have worked with you on a workshop. Or maybe they came from your website, which I'll get to in a minute. I'm going to give you some examples. But the first step in your marketing pie is to define the different channels that you have. Those of you, kind of we'll talk about this a little later, but those of you who buy this class, there's a marketing bundle that actually is worksheets that cover a lot of what I am talking about and this chart is in here to help guide you through it. But you define your channels and different channels are things like your online system. So driving people from Facebook to your site to your email list. Or to a Facebook pixel so you can re-target them on Facebook, capturing them that way. There's a ton of different systems that you can create online. I love talking about beginner photography workshops because you have so much more knowledge than someone who has no knowledge. And when you teach a workshop, you are teaching them just such basic things and you're getting the opportunity to tell your story and your why behind your pictures. And you're making money at it, so I think it's a pretty genius marketing strategy, actually. Doing fundraisers, teaming up business to business, being a walking advertisement, different promotions that you run on your marketing calendar, and good old fashioned reaching out. So there's definitely more word of mouth, all kinds of different things. But really define how you're marketing. It's really important to get clear on that and how you are establishing your relationship through each of those channels. And getting the ability to reconnect with those people. So this is what happens a lot on social media when we share a picture, like a bunch of people will like it or whatever, but then we lose them. Or you'll direct them to your site, they look at a blog post and then they're not looking for a session so they leave and you don't really get back in front of them again. But if you can get them onto your email list, or if you're meeting in person, you get their email address or you connect with them because you become a Facebook friend, now you have a human that you can reconnect with. And you have control of your business rather than hoping that they remember you when it's time for, when they want a session. And then, three, is just to stay in contact with your growing network and then bookings will start to come as you continue sharing your message and your stories. And what I have learned -- and we had someone post in one of my Facebook groups that she had just had a post office person just came out of nowhere and a past client came out of nowhere, she actually shared her past 15 clients and they weren't from any one promotion that came up. They were all from different places. Some of them were past repeat clients and that's a marketing pie right there, where all these different people are coming from. So, say in one month, you have a workshop, you run a promotion, you do a -- you contribute to a fundraiser, and then you accumulate 50 people for your email list. Or, it doesn't have to be email listing, but you just have 50 new contacts. Then you have 50 people that you can reach out to in a couple of months and be like, hey, I do this, I'd love to help you with this. And you might get two of those 50 people who book with you but it's because you have accumulated those relationships as opposed to just showing up on social media and saying, hey, I'm here. So a few things to know about this. Keep track of where your clients are coming from and when they come into your zone versus when they take their action to book with you. So, Tara Gentile, who's been on Creative Life quite a bit, and one thing I learned from her is this thing of early adopters and late adopters and basically that's those people who they hear it from you at, say January, but it might not be until the following January when they actually take action. That's really, really common. So, a lot of times we do a promotion and we think that it tanked because we didn't get any bookings. That's not necessarily true. The strength of your channels will rise when you repeat and refine the process. So if you feel like, oh I didn't get any bookings out of doing this, don't drop it. Look at it. See what worked, see what didn't work. See where people fell off and then refine it and repeat it over and over. You can put each channel on a calendar, measure its results, and predict how many people you need to reach your goal. So if you know, okay I do this annual documentary in-home session promotion in November to December, and last year I had 400 people on my email list and I got 30 bookings out of it, that's a number that you can work with to predict the next year how many people you need to get in front of. And that's all the numbers game. But those people have to have started in the relationship side. So what's important is what you do now isn't always instant gratification. And what you do now impacts the liveliness of your business months from now. So just because you showed up today, that is going to impact your business later. And you should remember, sorry to interrupt -- You're fine. Your average business is going to take at least three years to be profitable. At least three. I mean, you can be lucky and it can go faster, but I think people are hard on themselves when they're not working -- They just put a website out, they just started this marketing and they're not booking right away. They say, "I don't understand. "I have the website up, I have an email list, "and I'm not getting anyone booking." You need to be patient. There's a lot of work that has to go into it. So you have to give yourself grace and patience and realize that businesses, good solid businesses, take awhile to get going. Yes? Yeah, and it's similar to, I think this was brought up yesterday, of hearing things repetitively, we need to learn repetitively, our clients need to hear that we're there for them and they need to hear these things repetitively, too. And that delays, not delays them, but is proof that it take some time sometimes. And that's the problem that I find that is a lot of the mindset problem, is that we think that we're connected all the time, because we are like, "Oh, I posted on Facebook three times today." Well, not really. You're going to have better results, you'll have better results and need to reach less numbers when the people that you are connected with are already part of an established relationship with you. So just remember that all effort doesn't mean impact, or you know what I mean? Effort doesn't mean impact all of the time. It's the type of efforts that you're putting into it. Are you making a genuine connection? Or are you kind of being empty to a mass amount of people? There's a really big difference. And I believe in the beginning of business in good old fashioned reaching out, which I know some of you are probably terrified to do but it really, really, it works and I'm going to show you some examples of that in just a sec. You can propel your business forward by genuinely staying connected to people. The secret here is that these interactions they don't have to be all about business all of the time. It could just simply be a hello. And that brings you to the front of their mind again. So here are a few examples. It could be a Facebook message. You don't always have to pick up the phone, I'm not saying to start cold calling people like we did 20 years ago. But it could be, "Hey, I was thinking about you -- "how are you doing? "Here's what's been going on with me." And just insert something exciting about your business -- "But enough about me, tell me all about you." And it could just be as simple as that. Or it could be something like you saw something happening in their life. "I just saw that your kid started "kindergarten, how are they doing with that?" Just be a friend. And the more that you do this, the more people you are going to be in the front of their mind of. Even if they're not willing, or ready, or whatever, to book a session, when they hear somebody else thinking about it, they'll be, "Oh, I know this photographer" because you're staying relevant to them. Or it could be something like, "I just came across this session from "another photographer about" whatever -- it could be at the family cabin, like I was talking about earlier "and it reminded me of you. "How fun would it be to bottle up "this story for your family?" "You know, I was thinking about "how you talked about how close "your kids are with your husband's parents. "What would you think about doing this type of "a session, a grandparent session, with you?" So you had them already as clients, or as Kirsten was saying, having that extra hour to document them. Be like, "Alright so we did an hour, "what would you think about doing an all-day session?" Maybe you do this six months or a year after their session so that way this is how you can keep them as clients. And of course, the old just reaching out to a past client, "Hey Suzy, I realized it's been a couple of years "since our last session. "I see how the kids have grown "and I just know that life probably looks "and feels a lot different for you. "What do you think about bottling up "this season of life in another -- " I think Yana has a question. _ Yana, do you want to use the mic? Okay, so the first thing that comes to my mind is how do you keep track of all of these memories with your clients? Because I'm not... Do you have a folder with little notes about that? Well, really, there's a few different things. It depends on how you keep track of all of the clients that you have worked with. You could simply just make notes on there. What I have done in the past is use a binder where it's categorized, I guess, or organized in quarters. So there's details about a client, details about their life, and then I might Facebook stalk them a little bit to get an update. I was just going to suggest that. Yeah, and then it's putting them into okay, I talked to them in January, now I should touch base with them again in April. But part of that marketing bundle that's a bonus thing that I have given to Creative Life to put into the class package, there's like this thing that looks like a roster and you put the name and a detail about them, and then there's columns for the quarter. So you can literally just check off if you talk to them. On Facebook you can create groups of people, right? So I would say if your clients are on Facebook, put them in the groups. Then you can just see the feed from time to time, your timeline feed, from the groups of people. So then you could spend two hours on the third Thursday of every month and you just check in with them. Right? See what they're doing. Send them a little note, that's what I'm thinking that would be the best way to keep in touch with them. If they're on Facebook, is to have them all there. Then you switch it and say, only see the timeline from these people. And then you can just kind of Facebook stalk them. See what they're up to, and then maybe shoot them a message. And this is not limited just to past clients, but people you meet out and about. I would do this with my kids' parents of their school. I connect with them on Facebook or in real life and send them a text message or send them an email or Facebook message. Even if they've never been my client just to be a genuine human connecting with them and you're keeping yourself front of mind at the same time. Our life changes, on average, every three months. So that's kind of my rule of thumb for when to circle back to someone in this more direct, good old fashioned reaching out approach. Final thoughts. What if you had a real conversation with three people, human conversations, not I'm sharing on Facebook, people each day about their life and how your photos could help them? What if you told them about what you did every single day? Could you imagine the difference that would make than just sharing pictures on your site and social media? What if you shared more about why you do what you do or your why behind the pictures instead of telling them what you can do for them? And go to that language shift. What if you didn't tell them how they'll feel about having pictures of this season in life but you help them arrive to that moment of understanding how your pictures will impact their life? So you're taking those people from that chart in the beginning, that one through five, what if you help these people that are more in the one and two zones, what if you don't just try to tell them, "oh you're going to love this", but you help them arrive to that number five mindset just by the stories and information that you share? What if you stopped focusing on bookings, bookings, bookings, and instead you set your intention on forging and maintaining relationships centered around the beliefs and thoughts, the point of view that lights you up inside of why you pick up your camera? And on the hard days, when it feels like nothing's really working, and you are coming into your day, you're ready to share and connect and impact your community and it feels really hard or impossible, really look at your thoughts, your mindset, and the different blocks that you have. We all have them, I have them, and what I have found really helpful to get through them on my own is to write it out. And ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen? So if you're like, I just don't want to share my story with three people today. Well, what's the worst that could happen? And go there and I promise it's like the most freeing thing if you can just let yourself think about, okay, it's not as bad as I'm letting myself think. And then the last thing is, "If you argue for your beliefs, you get to keep them."

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Fearless and Framed Marketing Bundle

Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

Student Work